This documentation refers to versions 0.4.11 or older. Documentation for 0.9.0 or newer is here.


Rapid Photo Downloader is a photo and video importer from cameras, memory cards and Portable Storage Devices. It can download photos and videos from multiple devices simultaneously. It provides many flexible, user-defined options for subfolder creation, photo and video renaming, and backup.

This documentation contains a description of Rapid Photo Downloader's features and how to make the most of them.

Getting Started

Before you download any photos or videos, you might like to configure your setup:

  • 1where you want your photos and videos downloaded
  • 2how you want your photos and videos named
  • 3where to download photos and videos from
  • 4if and how you want your photos and videos backed up
  • 5how you want to handle any filename conflicts or missing backup devices

When you are comfortable your choices meet your requirements, you can automate aspects of Rapid Photo Downloader's operations.


Read how to install Rapid Photo Downloader.


Rapid Photo Downloader scans available photos and videos, and gives you the option of choosing which files you want to download.

Downloading specified files

You can download all the photos and videos, or only files you've specified. If you choose to download only selected files, for each device the progress bar will show how many files remain to be downloaded.

The toolbar at the top of the main program window allows you to configure where files will be downloaded from, whether they will be copied or moved, and where they will be downloaded to.

If the move option is chosen, upon the completion of a download, photos and videos that were successfully downloaded will be deleted from the device they were downloaded from. Photos and videos that were not downloaded successfully will not be deleted. If backups are enabled, and the file was not backed up, it will not be deleted.

Marking Multiple Files for Download

You can simultaneously mark multiple files to download or not download—there is no need to manually place or remove a checkmark for each file. To do this, select which files you want to mark, and then check or uncheck one of the files you have selected. This will affect all of the selected files.

Assigning Job Codes

You have the option of assigning Job Codes to your files before your download them. A Job Code is text that you assign to photos and videos. They are helpful if you want to describe the set of photos and videos in each download. A job code can be used as part of a subfolder name or the photo and video file name.

Specifying a Job Code

To assign a previous Job Code to selected files, select it from the drop-down list, or simply start typing and previous matching entries will be displayed for you to select. To assign a new Job Code to selected files, type a new one in the entry box and hit the Enter key. The Job Codes are displayed in the order they were last used.

Tip: If you want to assign a different Job Code to each photo or video, you must download your files in batches.

You will be prompted for a Job Code in a pop up window when a download begins.

If you simultaneously download from more than one device, the job code will only be prompted for once. In other words, if you are already downloading from one device, and you insert a second device, it will use the job code you have already entered.

Whenever a download has finished, if you insert a new device and don't assign Job Codes before commencing a download, Rapid Photo Downloader will prompt again for a Job Code. You can select the Job Code you just used, or specify a new one. If you download from more than one device simultaneously, a download is finished whenever all the devices have been downloaded from.

Prompt to Download from New Devices
Image Devices

When both automatic detection and Portable Storage Devices are enabled, Rapid Photo Downloader will prompt you whether you want to download from a new device. This is convenient when you never want to download from a device or partition on your computer.

If you want Rapid Photo Downloader to not prompt you every time it runs, check the checkbox Remember this choice. You can undo this choice by removing it from the Remembered Paths in the Device Options section of the program Preferences.

Download Folders for Photos and Videos

Rapid Photo Downloader downloads your files into primary download folders—one for photos, and one for videos (they can be the same folder if you wish). It then automatically creates subfolders, as needed, based on the options you specify.

Tip: See the section Specifying Custom File and Subfolder Names to learn how to generate your own custom download subfolder names.

By way of example, supposing your computer is used to download photos from two different cameras, and you have a folder in your home directory called Pictures that you store your photos in. To keep your photos organized, you have subfolders for each year, containing subfolders made up of the year, month and day the photos were taken, as well as a final subfolder containing photos from each camera. After ensuring that the Pictures folder already exists, specify it as your Download Folder. To have Rapid Photo Downloader automatically create the subfolders, specify the Photo Downloader Subfolder preferences so that the photo year, month and day are used to create subfolders, and the camera model is used to create the final subfolder:

Download folder example
Download Subfolders for Photos and Videos

You can choose from among a variety of options for the creation of subfolders. They are the same for photos and videos, except for differences in metadata options.

Date and Time

See Date and Time options for Photo and Video Renaming for a description of the available options.


You can enter free text here, such as the photographer's name.


Sometimes it is helpful to classify photos and videos into subfolders based on the file's extension, particularly when the camera is set to generate both a RAW phot and a JPEG photo from the same exposure. It makes no sense to generate subfolder names based on any other part of the filename, so Extension is the only choice available.

Tip: The period (dot) will not be included as part of the subfolder name.


See Photo Renaming Metadata and Video Renaming Metadata for a description of the available options.

Job Codes

Job codes are especially helpful in describing the contents of a folder. See the section on Job Codes below for what they are and how you can use them.


This is what allows you to create subfolders within other subfolders.

Tip: There is no need to start or end the subfolder options with a separator. If you do, it will automatically be removed.

Photo and Video Renaming
Photo Renaming

One of Rapid Photo Downloader's most powerful features is its ability to generate meaningful file names using criteria you specify. The following options can be combined to generate limitless variations.

Tip: Do not forget the file extension.

Tip: Putting some thought into choosing a worthwhile system for generating filenames can make your life easier in future, particularly if you store tens of thousands of photos or more.

Date and Time

There are three types of date and time choices available:

  • 1Image date or Video date: when the photo or video itself was taken
  • 2Today or Yesterday: the time the actual file is being downloaded
  • 3Download time:the time at which the download was started. If there is more than one device being downloaded from at one time, the time for the first device will be used.

The options available for both are the same, except for the additional choice of subseconds with the photo date and time.

Tip: AVI files do not contain any date and time metadata. Instead, the file modification time is used as a substitute.

Date and Time options are:

  • 1YYYYMMDD: Year (4 digits), month and day
  • 2YYYY-MM-DD: Year (4 digits), month and day, with a hyphen between them
  • 3YYMMDD: Year (2 digits), month and day
  • 4YY-MM-DD: Year (2 digits), month and day, with a hyphen between them
  • 5MMDDYYYY: Month, day and year (4 digits)
  • 6MMDDYY: Month, day and year (2 digits)
  • 7MMDD: Month and day
  • 8DDMMYYYY: Day, month and year (4 digits)
  • 9DDMMYY: Day, month and year (2 digits)
  • 10YYYY: Year (4 digits)
  • 11YYYY: Year (2 digits)
  • 12MM: Month
  • 13DD: Day
  • 14Month (full): Month (text format)
  • 15Month (abbreviated): Month (abbreviated text format)
  • 16HHMMSS: Hours, minutes, and seconds
  • 17HHMM: Hours and minutes
  • 18HH-MM-SS: Hours, minutes, and seconds, with a hyphen between them
  • 19HH-MM: Hours and minutes, with a hyphen between them
  • 20HH: Hour
  • 21MM: Minute
  • 22SS: Second
  • 23Subseconds: Subseconds (only for photos, and only if supported by your camera)

Tip: If subseconds metadata is not available in a photo being downloaded, it will be set to 00 for that photo.


Here you can enter free text to include in the generated filename, such as a hyphen or a name of some kind.


Filename options are:

  • 1Name + extension: The complete filename, including the extension
  • 2Name: The filename, excluding the extension
  • 3Extension: The filename's extension only. The period (dot) is already included. You do not need to add one yourself.
  • 4Image number: The component of the filename which is made up of a series of numbers. These are the numbers which are automatically incremented by the camera (typically 4 digits in length). For example, the image number of the filename IMG_0524.CR2 is 0524. For a filename like VD1D7574.CR2, it is 7574. You can specify how many digits should be used: all of them, or the last one, two three or four digits.
Photo Metadata

Metadata options for photos include:

  • 1Aperture: aperture value used, recorded in the EXIF field
  • 2ISO: the ISO value used
  • 3Exposure time: how long the exposure was for—see Representation of Exposure Time for details
  • 4Focal length: focal length used
  • 5Camera make: Manufacturer of the camera, e.g. NIKON CORPORATION, Canon
  • 6Camera model: the model name as specified by the manufacturer, e.g. NIKON D300, Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III
  • 7Short camera model: derived from Camera model, but in shortened form without the manufacturer name, e.g. D300, 1DsMkIII, XSi
  • 8Hyphenated short camera model: like Short camera model, but includes any information from the Camera model next to a hyphen, e.g. DSC-P92 instead of P92
  • 9Serial number: applicable to select Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and Fujifilm cameras
  • 10Shutter count: applicable to select Nikon SLRs only
  • 11Owner name: applicable to select Canon SLRs where the owner name has been uploaded to the camera
Representation of Exposure Time

For photographers, exposure times of less than one second are normally expressed in fraction form, e.g. 1/125. This format is not helpful when naming files, because the forward slash is an illegal filename character for some operating systems. To work around this problem, Rapid Photo Downloader formats exposure times without using the forward slash:

  • 1For exposures less than one second but more than or equal to one tenth of a second, the result is formatted as a one character length integer e.g. 3 represents 3/10 of a second
  • 2For exposures less than one tenth of a second, the result is formatted as an integer e.g. for an exposure that was 1/125 of a second, the value is 125
  • 3For exposures greater than or equal to one second, the value is formatted as an integer with a trailing s e.g. 30s represents 30 seconds
Video Metadata

Video metadata options can be used in video renaming and video subfolder creation.

Video Renaming

Metadata options for videos include:

  • 1Codec: the video's codec, e.g. H.264 AVC
  • 2Width: the video's width in pixels
  • 3Height: the video's width in pixels
  • 3Length: the video's length, in seconds, rounded to the nearest second
  • 5Frames Per Second: the video's frames per second, rounded to the nearest second (avilable only on AVI files)
Sequence numbers

Rapid Photo Downloader uses these sequence numbers to track sucessfully completed downloads:

  • 1Downloads today: tracks downloads completed during that day (if a photo or video is skipped, or not downloaded because of an error, then this sequence number is not incremented)
  • 2Stored number: similar to Downloads today, but it is remembered from the last time the program was run
  • 3Session number: reset each time the program is run

Tip: Sequence values are shared among both video and photo downloads. If you use sequence values only in photo filenames, for instance, downloads of videos will still increment the sequence values being used.

The number of digits used to generate the sequence number can be specified to be one of one, two, three, four, five or six digits in length. Specifying an option longer than One digit is helpful when you want to keep overall filename length consistent, because sequence number values less than the length specified by you will be padded with zeros preceding the actual value, e.g. 0001.

Tip: If the length of the sequence number is longer than the length you specify, then the actual length of the sequence number will be used. For example, if you specify One digit, and the sequence number is 1067, then 1067 will be included in the filename. Sequence numbers are never truncated.

Sequence number updates

Stored and session numbers are incremented only when you use them. For instance, if you download some photos without using these sequence numbers, and then download some more photos using them, the prior download will have no effect on the value of the sequence numbers.

Downloads Today

This sequence number tracks the number of successful downloads made on any one day. During each new day, the sequence number is reset to zero.

In contrast to other sequence numbers, this sequence number is updated regardless of whether it is used or not. That is, whether or not you use the Downloads Today sequence number as part of the photo or video file name, the number will always reflect how many successful downloads were completed on that day.

See Rename Options to learn more about the Day start option.

Sequence letters

Sequence letters are generated using the pattern a, b, ...z, aa, ab, ...zz, aaa, aab, and so forth. Like stored and session numbers, they are incremented only when you use them.

Job Codes

Job codes are helpful in describing the attributes of a set of photos and videos, for example photos from a wedding. See the section on Job Codes for what they are and how you can use them.

Specifying Custom File and Subfolder Names

If you want to generate file and subfolder names that are not found in the pre-defined options that come built-in to Rapid Photo Downloader, you can combine the built-in options to create your own.

For example, supposing you want to generate download subfolders using the scheme YYYY/YYYY-MM. You can do this by using the built-in Date and Time metadata components with a Text component:

In the above illusration, the Date and Time metadata component YYYY is followed by a Text component, which contains a single short hyphen character, followed by the the Date and Time metadata component MM.

You can of course combine components like this in practically any manner you like.

Rename Options
Rename Options

These options relate to photo, video and subfolder names.

Sequence Number Options

Here you can set the values for Downloads today and the Stored number, if you need to adjust them for some reason.

You can also specify the time a day "starts". This is useful if you use the Downloads today sequence number and often photograph something late at night (e.g. concerts) and you want to start a download after midnight. Here you might like to specify that a new day to "start" at 3am, for instance.

Synchronize RAW + JPEG Sequence Numbers

This option is useful if you use the RAW + JPEG feature on your camera and you use sequence numbers or letters in your photo renaming. Enabling this option will cause the program to detect matching pairs of RAW and JPEG photos, and when they are detected, the same sequence numbers and letters will be applied to both photo names. Furthermore, sequences will be updated as if the photos were one. For example, if 200 RAW photos and 200 matching JPEG photos are downloaded, the value of Downloads today will be incremented by 200, and not 400. The same goes for the rest of the sequence values, including the Stored number sequence number.

Matching photos are detected by comparing filename, as well as the exif value for the date and time the photo was created (including subseconds when the camera records this value).

This option will take effect regardless of whether the RAW and JPEG photos are stored on different memory cards or the same memory card. Furthermore, if they are stored on separate memory cards, you can download from them simultaneously or one after the other. The only requirement is to download the photos in the same session—in other words, for the feature to work, use as many memory cards as you need, but do not exit the program between downloads of the matching sets of photos.

Compatibility with Other Operating Systems

If checked, then characters that are invalid in filenames in operating systems other than Linux are stripped from the generated filename. These characters are: :, *, ?, ", <, >, and |. Furthermore, any white space (e.g. spaces) beginning or ending a folder name will be removed.

Tip: If you ever want to share your photos with people who use Microsoft Windows,™ then keeping this checked is a good idea.

Job Codes
Job Code Preferences

If you want to delete any previously used job codes, or enter new ones, you can do so through the program preferences.

Tip: Remember, it's often far more efficient to assign a Job Code in the program's main window.


Devices are devices from which to download photos and videos, such as cameras, memory cards and Portable Storage Devices.

Please note that support for downloading directly from a camera is experimental, and requires a recent version of the Gnome libraries. It works better with some cameras than others. The camera must also be supported by libgphoto2 in combination with gvfs—if you cannot browse the camera's contents in a file manager (e.g. Nautilus), the camera download will not work until gvfs support is improved.

Tip: If downloading directly from your camera works poorly or not at all, try setting the camera to PTP mode. If that is not possible, consider using a card reader. Modern card readers, including inexpensive models, provide much faster download speeds than almost all cameras.

Tip: You can download photos from multiple devices simultaneously. If you regularly download photos from more than one memory card, you may like to consider downloading your photos in parallel using more than one memory card reader. See Tips for Downloading from Multiple Memory Cards.

Automatic Detection of Devices

When automatic detection is enabled, Rapid Photo Downloader scans a device's folder structure and contents to determine if it contains photos. It does this by checking if the folder DCIM exists in the device's root directory. This folder is always created by digital cameras. If this folder does not exist, then unless you have specified automatic detection of Portable Storage Devices, the device will not be scanned for photos.

Portable Storage Devices

A Portable Storage Device is a small device used by photographers who need to download photos from their memory cards without using a computer. It typically consists of a hard drive, a built in card reader, and a screen. They are particularly useful when the photographer expects to be in the field for days at a time, or at any time when they take more photographs than their memory cards can hold. There are a variety of models from numerous manufacturers large and small. Unlike with digital cameras, no standard exists specifying their folder layout, so each manufacturer does something a little different.

Because of the lack of a standard, if you enable automatic detection of Portable Storage Devices, the entire device will be scanned for photos.

Device Options
Backing up photos and videos
Remembered Paths

Rapid Photo Downloader will prompt whether you want to ignore or download from a device if you have selected the options for the Automatic Detection of Devices and the use of Portable Storage Devices (this is discussed in the section Prompt to Download from New Devices). If you want to undo a choice you previously made about devices to always ignore or download from, you can remove its path from the list of Remembered Paths.

Ignored Paths

Ignored Paths are useful when you are downloading from a device or location that contains one or more subfolders from which you do not want to download. For example, some cell phones include a subfolder that contains thumbnails of the photos and videos you've taken, such as a .thumbnails subfolder in the DCIM folder. Here you can specify which subfolders you do not want scanned for files. You do this by specifying only part of the subfolder's path, which is typically just the name of the subfolder itself.

Using Regular Expressions

If you select the option for using python-style regular expressions, you can use Python's powerful regular expressions syntax to specify which subfolders to ignore. The pattern you specify will be incorporated into a pattern that begins with .* and ends in $ (meaning all characters up to the start of your pattern, your patten, and then the end of the line). For instance, the pattern [Tt]humbnails will match both of these paths:

Backing Up Photos and Videos
Backing up photos and videos

As it downloads, Rapid Photo Downloader can backup to devices like external hard drives. It can be configured to:

  • 1use as many backup devices as you can plug in
  • 2automatically recognize backup devices as soon as they are inserted
  • 3backup to a location that never changes, such a network directory
  • 4backup photos to one device and videos to another, or use the same devices for both

The folder structure and filenames used for the backups will be identical to those used for downloading onto your computer's primary drive.

Although backing up photos as soon as you download them slows down the download process, it can give you peace of mind as you work with the photos on your computer. You can manipulate and delete them all the while knowing that if you make a mistake or change your mind, you can safely retreive them from your backup.

Tip: If you work with many photos—particularly RAW files—and videos you may find that your computer's capacity to store all of these files is easily overwhelmed. In such cases, your workflow will probably involve some kind of system where you have two copies of each file being stored on external drives or some other kind of backup medium. Backing up to two devices simultaneously is very helpful for workflows like this.

Tip: You can use the same folder name for both photos and videos if you want them backed up to the same folder.

Automatic Detection of Backup Devices

Backup devices are automatically detected by scanning devices to see if they contain either of the names specified in Photo backup folder name and Video backup folder name. The Preferences dialog window provides three examples of the path it will search for to determine if a device is used for backup or not.

Tip: Whenever a device is plugged in, if backups are enabled, Rapid Photo Downloader will check to see if it can be used for backups before it will check to see if it is a device from which photos can be downloaded.


There are five ways to automate the download process:

  • 1Start downloading at program startup will download from whatever devices are plugged in as soon as Rapid Photo Downloader is started.
  • 2When Rapid Photo Downloader is already running, Start downloading upon device insertion will start downloading from devices as soon as they are plugged in. This is especially useful when you are downloading from more than one device at a time.
  • 3Unmount ("eject") device upon download completion allows you to remove a device from your computer as soon as photos and videos have finished being copied from it.
  • 4Exit program when download completes causes the program to exit once all downloads are complete, as long as no errors or warnings of any kind were issued.
  • 5Exit program even if download had warnings or errors will cause the program to exit after download completes irrespective of any warnings or errors.
  • 6Automatically rotate JPEG images: losslessly rotates JPEG images using the program exiftran. Exiftran rotates images automatically by checking the exif orientation tag, updates the exif informaton if needed (image dimension, orientation), and rotates the exif thumbnail.

You can slightly increase download speeds if you turn off the generation of thumbnails. The difference is usually fairly trivial, however.

Error Handling
Error Handling
Handling Image Naming Conflicts

Rapid Photo Downloader will never overwrite an existing photo or video in your download folders (see Handling Backup Naming Conflicts for how duplicates in backups are handled). When a duplication in a filename occurs (whether from the current download or from a previous one), there are two ways to deal with it:

  • 1skip downloading the photo or video
  • 2download the image, but give it a unique identifier so that the existing photo or video is not overwritten
Unique Identifiers

Unique identifiers are generated by adding a suffix _n (where n is a number) immediately before the image's filename extension. If it does not have an extension, the identifier will be placed at the end of the filename. The number is the lowest number that can be used without overwriting an existing file.

Handling Backup Naming Conflicts

If a duplicate filename occurs in the backup location, Rapid Photo Downloader can be configured to overwrite it, or skip backing it up.

Improving your Workflow
Choosing Suitable Image Filenames

No two photographers might ever agree on what makes an ideal filename for an image, but there are general principles that you might like to consider:

  • 1nothing except the extension of a camera generated filename is important enough not to replace with something better
  • 2unique names mean you will never be confused as to which photo or video is which
  • 3consistently including a classification component in the filename, linked to the subfolders it is stored in, makes it easy to locate whenever one of its derivatives is on a website or with a client
  • 4if exposure information is useful as you evaluate the quality of photos—for example, "was the shutter speed dangerously slow, or was a high aperture used?"—then consider making photo metadata a prominent part of the filename
Sequence Numbers and Letters, and Uniqueness

If you use sequence numbers or letters as part of your photo or video filenames, ensure as much as possible that unique filenames will be generated, or you could be in for some unexpected results. Consider the following scenario:

  • 1you store all your photos from any one day in separate subfolders
  • 2following good practice, you include in the filename the year, month and day it the photo was taken
  • 3you have already downloaded 326 photos today
  • 4you rely on the Downloads today sequence number to ensure your generated filenames are unique, for example 20090115-0327.cr2
  • 5for whatever reason, there is already an photo with the filename 20090115-0602.cr2 in the download subfolder (perhaps someone manually placed it there)
  • 6you have turned off the option to add a unique suffix when a duplicate filename is detected
  • 7you attempt to download another 550 photos from two memory cards
  • 8the download of photos 327 through 601 proceed as expected, but when the program attempts to download photo 602, it cannot do so, because of the filename conflict with the existing image
  • 9because the download does not occur, the Downloads today sequence number is not incremented, which means that none of the other photos can be downloaded either

Tip: Scenarios like this are an example why turning off error messages when duplicate filenames are detected can cause you to overlook unanticipated problems.

American Society of Media Photographers Guidelines

The American Society of Media Photographers' Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow website contains guidelines on coming up with an excellent file renaming system. The project was funded by the United States Library of Congress through its National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. These folks know their stuff!

Tips for Downloading from Multiple Memory Cards

To be able to download large volumes of photos and videos from memory cards with minimum fuss, keep these suggestions in mind:

When configured like this, as soon as you attach a memory card, its photos will be downloaded. When the download from that memory card is complete, another one can be inserted. It will automatically start to download from that one, even if it is currently downloading from other cards.